2013 NFL Mock Draft: First Round Projections for Every Team
The enigma of the NFL draft alters on a weekly basis during football season.
As for the 2013 version, just take a look at USC's Matt Barkley and West Virginia's Geno Smith. Both are two of the best college football has to offer and are Heisman Trophy hopefuls.
However, after Barkley and the Trojans fell to Stanford earlier in the year it was reasonable to see Smith's stock quickly rise. Since, Barkley haw clawed back because of USC's recent surge and the Mountaineers dropping two straight.
In short, there remains a lot to be seen between now and late April of 2013. For as much of an inexact science as each pro football draft can be, changes lie ahead as we close in on the chill of November.
1. Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo, DE/LB (LSU)
Although the Browns are 1-6, the good news is that all six losses are by an average of one touchdown. So, there’s really no wrong move at No. 1 overall for Cleveland whether it’s trading down or making a pick.
As for a selection, LSU’s Barkevious Mingo can help bolster that run defense and take the pass rush to another level. A natural effect of that is an improved coverage which bodes well in forcing more turnovers.
Cleveland’s offense has young talent, so sprucing up the defensive front only helps win the field position battle in a physical division.
2. Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Barkley, QB (USC)
Quarterback is the only thing holding Kansas City back right now. Fortunately, USC’s Matt Barkley has responded well since the dismal performance against Stanford and his stock is back up.
Here, Barkley suits well because the Chiefs provide a solid running game with Jamaal Charles to set up off play-action. The guy knows how to work well from under center and Barkley also possesses the arm strength to make every NFL throw.
Getting Barkley at No. 2 can also make receiver prospects more appealing, because K.C. needs a stronger complement to Dwayne Bowe.
3. Carolina Panthers: Johnathan Hankins, DT (Ohio State)
With stud edge rushers in Charles Johnson and Frank Alexander, as well as linebacker in Jon Beason and Luke Kuechly the Panthers need a lane clogging beast inside.
Well, Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins can do just that with his size frame of 6’3”, 320 pounds.
He’ll either see one-on-one because of the outside rushers, or draw a double-team to free up other front seven defenders to make plays. Considering the Panthers’ are still vulnerable against the run, Hankins fills a void to complete Ron Rivera’s defensive puzzle.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sam Montgomery, DE (LSU)
Through six games in 2012 the Jaguars have recorded only five sacks. That reason alone puts to rest any wonder regarding why Jacksonville’s defense has significantly underachieved in 2012.
Bringing in LSU’s Sam Montgomery, though, immediately changes that output. Possessing an extreme amount of quickness, instincts and reliable tackling and Montgomery will apply pressure and squeeze the edge against the run.
Plus, those instincts will pay off against screens, draws and knocking down passes when unable to wreck havoc in the backfield. Facing sound running teams in the AFC South, the Jaguars need an elite edge playmaker.
5. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
The Raiders are getting rather old inside the defensive front with Richard Seymour being 33 and Tommy Kelly turning 32 later this season.
Additionally, Oakland has struggled in getting pressure with just seven sacks through six games. Bring Star Lotulelei to the mix only sets up for the future. He’s a better backfield playmaker than given credit and Lotulelei’s size alone will draw double-teams.
Oakland’s outside pressure then gets favorable blocking situations which allow secondary guys like Tyvon Branch to force more turnovers. And being a run-oriented offense that’s capable of controlling the game tempo, the Raiders have a distinct advantage with Lotulelei in getting the offense more possessions.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
Bjoern Werner of Florida State is the perfect selection for Tampa Bay at No. 6.
For one, Tampa is so young across the board that the team’s potential is quite high. Still, this defense needs to apply more pressure if the Buccaneers want to consistently compete with the Falcons and Saints.
Werner is a natural athlete with impressive instincts and capable of impacting the line of scrimmage from anywhere. He can rush outside or in, occasionally sink into coverage and knows how to create turnovers.
The NFC South may be run by offense, however, Werner provides Tampa Bay with a competitive edge on defense.
7. Cincinnati Bengals: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
Make no mistake about it: A.J. Green is one of the NFL’s best receivers in the game today. Unfortunately, the Bengals passing offense lacks any other consistent reliability for Andy Dalton elsewhere on the field.
Yes, tight end Jermaine Gresham is solid but another No. 2 wide receiver is a definite need. California’s Keenan Allen can certainly take on that role, because he’s 6’3” and quite dependable anywhere over the middle or deep.
Allen is more than just your typical downfield threat, as he can make plays against man coverage and split double. Lining up opposite of Green and Cincy presents the league’s next best receiving combo.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
One bad game isn’t going to totally diminish Geno Smith’s NFL draft stock. Although the Kansas State Wildcats were easily the best defense he and the Mountaineers had faced to that point.
That said, Buffalo remains in need of a quarterback and Smith’s strong arm and willingness to sit in the pocket transitions well. Ryan Fitzpatrick has already thrown nine picks this season and each game where he threw at least one the Bills lost.
Until the game against Kansas State, Smith had not thrown an interception and West Virginia still fields an explosive attack. With impressive vision to spread the field and utilize all levels, Buffalo’s ground game will hit a new gear in 2012 to take pressure off Smith.
9. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
Detroit simply needs a lockdown cornerback in the secondary to help its front seven.
We’re seeing the solid development of Christian Ponder, so him being under center in Minnesota only enhances the NFC North’s overall passing attack. By comparison, though, the Lions are the weakest against the pass in having allowed a 64.7 completion percentage of opposing quarterbacks in 2012.
Even worse, Detroit has just two recorded interceptions through its first five games. Enter Alabama’s Dee Milliner and this problem gets fixed and fast. He’s well-versed in press coverage and isn’t afraid to bolt up and stuff the run.
Having a great field of vision, Milliner reacts quickly and is menace to receivers with his physical play: And that is a great complement to allow more time for the front seven to apply quarterback pressure.
10. New Orleans Saints: Eric Reid, Safety (LSU)
The New Orleans Saints have some defensive playmakers in Roman Harper and Patrick Robinson. The Saints also allow an average of 465 total yards and just over 30 points per game. So if it weren’t for Drew Brees this team would be 0-6.
A defense needs more than just guys capable of creating turnovers. LSU’s Eric Reid not only enhances that aspect, but he’s a solid tackler and instinctive to bait quarterbacks or prevent them from releasing the ball early.
Reid can roll down for a blitzing linebacker or slide over the top in Cover 2 for a blitzing cornerback. His presence allows for more creative ways to attack a quarterback, because Reid’s wherewithal can cover a lot of ground.
11. Tennessee Titans: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
Although the Titans currently ride a two-game winning streak, Tennessee is still looking for that brute pass-rushing force on the outside.
Georgia’s Jarvis Jones is the answer, as he has recorded 19 sacks and 29 tackles for loss dating back to the beginning of 2011. In no way is Jones an excellent run defender, although his lateral agility bodes well for being in a two or three-point stance.
Tennessee has solid inside linebackers to compensate and he could contribute as a 4-3 defensive end as well. If anything, Jones can make an immediate impact in strict passing situations. With the ability to cause fumbles and get in the backfield, he’s basically an updated version of Bruce Irvin.
Which thus far, has panned out quite well for the Seahawks.
12. Indianapolis Colts: Barrett Jones, Guard (Alabama)
Barrett Jones is the best offensive lineman this draft. And it’s not so much because he’s on a national title contender, as it is his versatility.
Jones possesses the skill set to impact at guard, tackle and center as he has contributed across Nick Saban’s line throughout his college career. Unsurprisingly, Alabama kept its stellar position as a punishing ground team as two running backs—Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson—were Heisman Trophy finalists and first-round selections.
The Colts can definitely use this kind of reliable dominance in the trenches, because Indianapolis doesn’t provide Andrew Luck with an elite NFL ball-carrier. Include Luck’s array of receiving weapons and giving him time to survey only increases Indy’s odds of winning more consistently.
13. Dallas Cowboys: John Jenkins, DT (Georgia)
When the 2013 NFL season kicks off, Jay Ratliff with be 32 years old. For as consistent as Ratliff has played for Dallas and his impact for Big D in the trenches, planning now for his eventual replacement must happen.
John Jenkins of Georgia is simply a mammoth beast at defensive tackle and his athletic combo of size, strength, power and quick explosion will pay extreme dividends from the start. For a tackle of his size, Jenkins moves better that at first glance and he doesn’t just take up blockers along the line of scrimmage.
The strength certainly allows for some arm tackles, although he can also dart through a gap and interfere with the handoff exchange or prevent a pulling lineman to create a lane. On a defensive front that presents so much individual talent such as DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee, Jenkins will have opportunities to shine against favorable blocking mismatches.
14. San Diego Chargers: Luke Joeckel, OT (Texas A&M)
After six games in 2012, Philip Rivers has been sacked 18 times and has thrown nine picks. Additionally, Rivers has fumbled the rock six times and it’s no surprise the Chargers have lost two straight.
To help negate Rivers from turning the ball over, Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M is a prime performer to step in. As the blindside protector to freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Aggies’ gunslinger has been sacked three times less despite playing one more game than Rivers.
Joeckel’s experience at the position continues to impact A&M’s offense, because the Aggies average almost 525 total yards per game. He fared well against the studs of LSU and Florida, and it’s no secret as to why Texas A&M remains competitive in college football’s toughest conference.
15. Miami Dolphins: Taylor Lewan, OT (Michigan)
Already having one Michigan offensive tackle in Jake Long, the Miami Dolphins can really boost the line for Ryan Tannehill with Taylor Lewan.
Interestingly enough, Lewan may have a stronger pass-protecting potential than Long entering the NFL. And this is courtesy of Denard Robinson who has the tendency not make quick decisions, which ultimately forces Lewan to pass block even longer.
Therefore, not only does Lewan get excellent practice during games the Michigan rushing attack also enhances his appeal. The Wolverines, excluding Robinson, are impressive at running the ball and as we’ve seen in 2012, the Dolphins’ offense possesses much balanced and explosiveness.
Get Lewan for at least depth purposes and Miami’s weapons like Reggie Bush and Davone Bess hit another level next fall.
16. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Justin Hunter, WR (Tennessee)
Justin Hunter may not have the marketable stats like USC’s Robert Woods or Cal’s Keenan Allen.
Nevertheless, this guy possesses just as much if not more pro potential. At 6’4”, 200 pounds much of Hunter’s contributions get minimalized by the rugged SEC defenses: And Volunteer’s quarterback Tyler Bray is nowhere near the level of Geno Smith or Matt Barkley.
The St. Louis Rams still need a big target for Sam Bradford to find downfield. Brian Quick and Austin Pettis are the two biggest, although neither have made much of an impact compared to the smaller receivers.
Hunter can be that next offensive piece, since his size and leaping ability will stretch the field and give Jeff Fisher stronger balance.
17. Seattle Seahawks: Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)
One area where the Seattle Seahawks can take over the NFC West is the intermediate passing game.
With his size, Sidney Rice can be a solid target from any route on the field.
Include Golden Tate’s speed and acceleration as a deep threat and the best underneath target is tight end Zach Miller. And although Doug Baldwin enjoyed a strong rookie campaign, his impact won’t hold a T to that of Tavon Austin.
Austin is the key reason for a large portion of Geno Smith’s success. His explosiveness over the middle and ability to gain incredible yards after the catch really puts a defense on its heels. Austin can also burn anyone in man coverage and his presence will widen zones at Russell Wilson’s convenience.
18. St. Louis Rams: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
Chance Warmack is arguably the best run-blocking specialist on the Crimson Tide’s offensive line.
He’s consistent in getting to the second level of chip-blocks and can quickly pull in either direction to form a lane. Factor in his solid pass-blocking and the Rams are getting a complete lineman to help the offense.
Steven Jackson will be 30 years old before the 2013 season and the NFC West is loaded with stout defenses. So, selecting a guy like Warmack is imperative for St. Louis to continue its offensive build. After all, Sam Bradford can’t set up play-action without a ground game and his receivers need time to develop patterns.
Warmack can be counted on in both areas and we’ll see St. Louis find a rhythm next season.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Johnthan Banks, CB (Mississippi State)
Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles need a safety and no, Johnthan Banks is not a safety.
What’s interesting here, though, is Banks’ ball skills and field awareness to make a big impact as a rookie in 2013. To this point in his career season Banks has recorded 15 picks, 39 defended passes and forced five fumbles.
Meaning: This selection and Banks’ size fits well as a safety in Philadelphia. Most definitely would quarterbacks attack a rookie in Cover 1 or 3, but the Eagles front seven and cornerbacks are suffocating enough to get Banks turnover opportunities.
And with Michael Vick under center, Philly must find a way to force more turnovers to counter-balance his ineptitude.
20. Arizona Cardinals: Jake Matthews, OT (Texas A&M)
Until the Arizona Cardinals figure out how to protect the quarterback, this team won’t last in the NFC playoff race and it won’t matter who is under center.
In short, that brings us to the other side of the Texas A&M coin in tackle Jake Matthews.
Arizona presents youth which is nice, however, none possess the ultimate talent and potential of Matthews. A fierce run-blocker, Matthews can quickly extend to limit a defenders chances of getting off the block and that also transitions well when sitting back to pass block.
Getting a guy like Matthews is the first step toward fixing Arizona’s offensive line. Because this team must also start slamming better on the ground to compete in this rough and tumble division.
21. New York Jets: Robert Woods, WR (USC)
If the New York Jets can supply Mark Sanchez with one more receiver, this offense will present impressive balance.
The ground game finally got back to its old self as the 2012 season has progressed, and Sanchez can play well when not solely relied on to move the ball. Robert Woods of USC is a complete receiver, because he can stretch a defense and go across the middle to widen zones.
Reliably sure-handed, Woods can out jump anyone man-to-man and the Jets rushing attack only forces a defense to leave man coverage behind. And Woods is quite explosive at getting yards after the catch.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Manti Te'o, LB (Notre Dame)
The Steelers are only getting older defensively, and no more is that evident than in Pittsburgh’s front seven.
Well, in order to keep their consistent dominance of the line of scrimmage landing Manti Te’o must occur next spring. Te’o is easily this year’s best linebacker and his excellent instincts will make a sound impact for Dick LeBeau.
He can react fast against the run, quickly shed blocks and stuff screens, draws and checkdown better than anyone. Plus, the guy has displayed immense improvement when defending the pass: As his four picks through seven games this season are worth noting.
23. Chicago Bears: Ricky Wagner, OT (Wisconsin)
Because the Wisconsin Badgers aren’t performing as well as recent seasons, it’s not surprising to see tackle Ricky Wagner go a bit unnoticed.
Still, the Badgers pass protection has given up just 13 sacks in eight games and the rushing attack remains strong. Wagner is a great addition for the Bears, because Jay Cutler still needs more consistent pocket protection and Chicago’s running game suits Wagner well.
He’s a better athlete than given credit and possesses smooth lateral movement. With the NFC North being a pass-oriented division, Wagner helps keep Chicago solid on the ground and balance to Cutler’s offense.
24. Minnesota Vikings: David Amerson, CB (North Carolina State)
Minnesota can go a few ways in the 2013 draft, as the Vikings are nearly a complete team with some minor voids needed to patch up.
Another receiver wouldn’t be a bad idea for Christian Ponder and nor wood a defensive tackle to spruce up the front seven. David Amerson of North Carolina State, though, really helps the Purple People Eaters fend off any explosive offenses.
As a true playmaking turnover machine, Amerson recorded 12 picks in 2011 and has four through seven contests in 2012. Blanketing in coverage is something Minnesota must immediately improvement upon, as the division still presents some elite passing attacks.
With Antoine Winfield turning 36 before next season, so bringing in that next dominant cornerback must happen sooner than later.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
It’s been an abysmal and uncharacteristic defensive performance so far in 2012 for the Baltimore Ravens. Even when healthy, Baltimore was torched fairly well through the air and the front seven was lacking against the run.
To add some youth and talent in Ed Reed’s secondary, though, Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes can help immediately. Presenting solid size for a cornerback, Rhodes reacts well to the ball in flight and is a technically sound defender against the run.
He doesn’t allow many yards after the catch and whenever challenged he normally breaks up the pass without interfering. Considering that the Ravens rank No. 23 against the pass and allow 400 total yards per game, drafting Rhodes can only help get this defense back on track.
26. New York Giants: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)
Eli Manning is easily one of the best quarterbacks in the game at making the targets around him better. The one area where New York can really improve next season, however, is tight end.
For as dependable as Martellus Bennett has been thus far, Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert will get the Giants to an unforeseen level. He’s a rare tight end capable of beating double coverage and Eifert’s size alone dominates man-to-man.
And considering that the Irish are a run-oriented offense without an elite quarterback, we can only imagine Eifert’s impact from Manning as well as run-blocking for Ahmad Bradshaw. He’s a complete tight end that completes the puzzle for Big Blue’s offense.
27. Denver Broncos: Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
Kawann Short is a straight up menace in the backfield. To this point in his career, Short has accumulated 42.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks.
Talk about totally dominating the point of attack, the Denver Broncos still must improve at defending the run to become an elite defense. Jack Del Rio’s unit is suffocating against the pass and shields well across the board at the intermediate and deep levels.
In addition, the Broncos remain great at piling up sacks and getting quarterback pressure. As for Short, he provides that interior control to free up linebackers and will make plays when blocked one-on-one. Viewing the AFC West and it presents some of the NFL’s best running backs in Darren McFadden, Jamaal Charles and Ryan Mathews.
Add Short and Denver works the trenches better than anyone in pro football.
28. Atlanta Falcons: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
John Abraham is old and at some point the Falcons need to find an immediate replacement. Look no further than Oregon’s Dion Jordan who is a converted receiver to defensive end.
Yes, and that only gives Jordan a competitive advantage. With continual improvement through each season along the defensive line, Jordan’s athleticism will get the Falcons better against the run and more consistent quarterback pressure.
Also, because of that receiver experience Jordan can occasionally sink into coverage to shield a quick slant, pop-pass or receiver screen. Not to mention that gives coordinator Mike Nolan the luxury of scheming more complex blitz packages.
29. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Lattimore, RB (South Carolina)
Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers have finally found a rhythm in 2012 and don’t appear to be slowing down. And regardless of how the year finishes, the only way Mike McCarthy’s offense will keep up the pace is with a stronger rushing attack.
South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore is the best back this draft season, although the position is rather weak compared to 2012. The bright side of that is it allows Lattimore to stand out even more.
He’s a downhill runner capable of getting the tough yards after contact, and Lattimore’s vision is perfect for the Packers spread offense. When a team doesn’t use a fullback all the time, normally one-back sets leave the ball-carrier vulnerable to unblocked defenders closer to the line.
Lattimore is so explosive once making a decision and patient enough to let the blocks develop, though, that he’ll draw up defenders and simply take pressure off Rodgers and the passing game.
30. New England Patriots: T. J. McDonald, Safety (USC)
Defending the pass, and more specifically down the middle, has been costing the New England Patriots in 2012. Through seven games played, the Pats rank No. 29 against the pass and allow an average of 290 passing yards per game.
Jump ahead to the 2013 draft and a safety in T.J. McDonald of USC fits the Pats to a T. He has excellent size to rolls down underneath or to sit back in Cover 1 or 3. McDonald’s not the fastest of safeties but his instincts present no wasted energy.
In turn, he is always in position to make a play and the strength will favor him when fighting to break up a pass or make a pick.
31. Houston Texans: Terrance Williams, WR (Baylor)
Whether the Houston Texans are looking for their next No. 1 or No. 2 receiver, taking Terranace Williams out of Baylor is a satisfying fit in 2013.
Already having good size for a No. 2 target, Williams possesses No. 1 potential. After playing second-fiddle to Kendall Wright for Robert Griffin II in 2011, Williams has brought his game to its next level with over 1,000 yards and nine scores through just six games in 2012.
Averaging over 21 yards per catch, his downfield playmaking skills and ability to get upfield from underneath is just what Houston needs. He’ll make a quick contributory role behind Andre Johnson and only face man-to-man courtesy of other reliable guys such as Owen Daniels and Kevin Walter.
Lest we forget about Arian Foster and the Texans ground game, which prevents a defense from dropping eight into coverage.
32. San Francisco 49ers: Marquess Wilson, WR (Washington State)
The future of San Francisco’s receiving corps lies with Washington State’s Marquess Wilson.
At 6’3”, Wilson’s other impressive attributes include leaping, explosion and strong hands to be a constant playmaker versus any type of coverage. He does, however, go quite a bit unnoticed as the Cougars aren’t the most competitive schools in the Pac-12.
But with over 3,000 receiving yards to this point into his career, the 49ers have to take Wilson in Round 1. Randy Moss may still be a deep target, but his best years are long gone and Ted Ginn is not a prototypical NFL receiver.
Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Vernon Davis are all solid go-to guys, although none have true No. 1 receiver talent: Otherwise that would already be evident earlier in their careers. Wilson possesses this unlimited ceiling because of his leap and dependable consistency, and Alex Smith needs that to keep this offense balanced.
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